Strike! That’s the sound of the world’s top two producers of cocoa who say they are suspending their sales for better prices.
The governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana are trying this time-honored strategy to address the imbalance between farmers’ income and money made by foreign commodity markets who scoop up most of the profit.
If the strategy sounds familiar, it’s the same one described in the Greek play Lysistrata where the women withheld affection from their husbands in order to secure peace and end the Peloponnesian War.
Currently, the majority of money does not reach the farmers who live in poverty.
Globally, 85% of the market is controlled by companies such as Kraft, Mars, and Nestlé.
But according to Ed Croply, a journalist, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo would do better to focus on processing cocoa beans, rather than just growing them. As with other commodities like diamonds or crude oil, the labor-intensive work happens elsewhere.
Of the $100 billion spent annually on chocolate, the African Development Bank reckons the continent keeps just $5 billion.
A meeting in the Ivory Coast in Abidjan on July 3 will discuss how to implement this measure for the next two years crops.